Before a concussion ended Brandon Belt’s season, the Giants first baseman was already dealing with another medical issue.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Belt had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee Wednesday. The expected recovery time for Belt is four weeks, a period in which he was already going to be resting from the concussion.
“It was one of those nagging deals,” Bochy said. “He played through it, it was bothering him some. But it’s that time of year, you heal up, get cleaned up.”
Bochy said the four-week mark is about when Belt will hopefully be cleared to resume baseball activities after the concussion. Belt had the surgery performed by Giants team physician Dr. Ken Akizuki.
“The timing is good, if you can say that,” Bochy said.
Belt hit .280 with 18 home runs and 68 RBIs in 137 games this season before sustaining a concussion as a result of taking a knee to the head while diving into second base Sept. 15 against the Reds. The symptoms did not immediately occur and Belt played in two more games before being shut down.
The level of caution with Belt is perhaps higher given he has a history of concussions, including one last year when he was hit by a ball in batting practice and from which symptoms came back later in the season. Bochy said the Giants are optimistic that Belt will not have lingering effects from this concussion after an offseason of rest.
“We expect that he’s going to be fine,” Bochy said. “Certainly for his sake I don’t want this thing to stay with him, or be one of those cases that can come up again at some point. I don’t think so, but I’m not a doctor. I haven’t been told anything different as far as, well this is going to be an issue with him. I haven’t heard that, I certainly don’t believe it.”
As for Belt’s knee, Bochy said he didn’t know if the tear occurred in a specific play or game, but that it’s something Belt played on for “a while.” Bochy said during his own career he played for a season on a torn meniscus and that, “You’re not dealing with a lot of pain, unless it moves occasionally – then it can flare up on you.”
▪ A day after being officially eliminated from the postseason, Bochy wrote out a lineup heavy on youth. Most notably: Both Jarrett Parker and Mac Williamson are starting in the corner outfield spots, and Marlon Byrd is not in the lineup.
Byrd is 15 plate appearances away from reaching 550 for the season, the number that would automatically vest a contract option for 2016. But Bochy said he wants to play Parker and Williamson “as much as I can” the remainder of the season.
“It allows us to get a better look at them and for them to get some more playing time up here,” Bochy said. “It’s going to be invaluable for both of us, the player and us.”
That would make it unlikely Byrd reaches 550. Bochy said he hadn’t talked to Byrd yet about his lineup plans, but he’ll likely approach the veteran in the next day.
Even if Byrd doesn’t vest his 2016 option, that won’t preclude the Giants from engaging in talks with him this offseason. Byrd, 38, has been productive for the Giants in 34 games this season, batting .275 with three homers and 30 RBIs. And Bochy recently said it has been a “joy” to have Byrd on the team.
▪ Bochy said he also intends to meet with his pitching coaches about the rotation for the final weekend and will likely have a decision Thursday about whether or not Madison Bumgarner will start the season finale.
Tim Hudson will start Thursday’s series finale against the Dodgers, but Bochy said he’ll be on “short work.” It will be a chance for Giants fans to show their appreciation for Hudson, who plans to retire after this season, and for Hudson to go out on a better note than last weekend’s start in Oakland.
▪ Bochy mentioned Kelby Tomlinson as one player the Giants would like to see get more work after the season, whether in the fall league or instructional league. The Giants want Tomlinson to get some work in the outfield, with the aim of making him a more versatile defensive option.
“With his speed I think it’s something he could do,” Bochy said. “It certainly would help his case out as we go into spring training.”
Matt Duffy, remember, was envisioned as a super-utility player this spring before taking over the everyday third base job. That could be a role for Tomlinson next year.
▪ Speaking of Duffy, Bochy said he has no plans to rest the rookie in the final few days of the season, meaning Duffy’s consecutive games played streak should stay intact going into 2016.
Buster Posey is not in the lineup Wednesday, but will be back in Thursday, Bochy said. There haven’t been any decisions to shut down any of the relievers after the Giants were eliminated from postseason contention Tuesday night.
“I think it’s important we go out there and try to win games,” Bochy said. “These games are still important for L.A., and we’re going to do all we can to win these games. We’ve got a job to do. And these guys, they want to play.”
▪ The Giants’ lineup Wednesday against Dodgers right-hander Mike Bolsinger:
And the Dodgers lineup against Mike Leake: